Residents share concerns with law enforcement

Residents share concerns with law enforcement
Solana Beach residents, Capt. Robert Haley, third from left, and other sheriff’s deputies discuss everything from sharrows to distracted drivers during an Aug. 14 community meeting, Photo by Bianca Kaplanek

SOLANA BEACH — Distracted drivers, school traffic and sharrows were among the issues Solana Beach residents brought up during an Aug. 14 Sheriff’s Coffee with the Community at La Colonia Community Center. 

Capt. Robert Haley began the meeting by sharing information on the recently created crime suppression team that focuses on crime trends and prolific offenders.

One of those trends is an increase in property crimes, which he said are primarily narcotics driven.

“People purchasing narcotics are not going to work from 9 to 5 and then going out to buy methamphetamines or cocaine,” Haley said. “They’re breaking into your vehicles and houses and using the profits to buy drugs.”

A new law aimed at reducing overcrowding in state prisons is creating a challenge for local law enforcement officers, he added.

Passage of Assembly Bill 109 means nonviolent, nonsexual, nonhabitual offenders now serve less time in county jails.

“A significant number of folks we arrest are AB109ers,” Haley said. “For those narcotics-driven property crimes, right now they’re not spending a significant amount of time in custody.”

Although the department is currently focusing on those crimes, Haley said the most frequent complaint he gets from Solana Beach residents are traffic related.

Some of the eight attendees wanted to know what was being done to address motorists who text while driving.

Haley said that behavior should be reported immediately to the nonemergency line at (858) 565-5200. Although the department receives an annual grant to fund officers who are specifically looking for distracted drivers, it will likely take legislative action with more severe penalties to curb the behavior, Haley said.

“Unfortunately, until they hurt or kill someone or themselves, they just don’t get it,” officer Emery Wallace said.

Kristine Schindler, a member of Bike Walk Solana Beach, wanted to know what law enforcement thought about the shared bike lanes, known as sharrows, recently installed along Coast Highway 101.

“It’s a great concept,” Haley said, adding that he has received reports they are used improperly.

“Some people think it’s a giant bike lane, which causes people in vehicles to get mad,” he said. Bicyclists are supposed to ride as far to the right as possible and only use a large part of the sharrow when they can’t safely do that.

“But we haven’t received any significant complaints other than when people try to make a statement and ride five-people wide,” he said.

There were also concerns about youngsters riding skateboards while holding onto car handles, primarily on Nardo Avenue and in the St. James Catholic Church parking lot.

Haley said that behavior should immediately be reported to the nonemergency line.

With school about to start, there were also concerns about traffic during drop-off and pickup times. Haley said city officials and law enforcement are working to address the problems and planned to meet with school officials before classes got under way.

Deputies said they would follow up on a recommendation to have officers at back-to-school night to provide suggestions and answer questions from parents.

One resident wanted to know what law enforcement was doing to address marijuana smoking during concerts at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

Haley said it is increasingly difficult to enforce the law because “an unusually large number of people have medical marijuana cards and it’s a low-level violation now.”

The hour-long meeting also included a brief discussion on driving while intoxicated. Wallace said in 2011 there were a combined 600 DUI arrests in Del Mar, Solana Beach and Encinitas. He said 70 percent of those arrested live in one of those three cities.

About 18 percent were 20 or younger and 21 percent were repeat offenders. Less than 1 percent were military members, Wallace said.

“I still can’t believe, with all the promotions and information out there, that people still do that,” Haley said. “If you have more than one drink, don’t drive.”

According to the event flier, community outreach is a top priority of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.

The meetings, which are held about every three months, give residents an opportunity to chat with the captain and other law enforcement officials in a casual setting.

The first such meeting in Solana Beach was held in May on a midweek morning. About 20 people attended.

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  1. Bill Davidson says:

    Capt. Robert Haley is fundamentally ignorant about the law and bicycle safety.

    Sharrows are placed where the traffic engineers have determined that it is unsafe for bicyclists to ride far right.

    California state law, CVC 21202(a)(3) exempts bicyclists from the requirement to ride far right when it is unsafe to do so. Apparently Haley thinks he knows when it’s safe better than the traffic engineers do and better than all bicycle safety experts do.

    All of the sharrows on the 101 through Solana Beach are in places where it is always unsafe to ride far right. Capt. Robert Haley may disagree with that, but I guarantee you, he hasn’t taken a safety class from the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition, the League of American Bicyclists, Effective Cycling or Cycling Savvy. That means that he does not understand the dangers of riding to the far right through there.

    You will not find one League of American Bicyclists certified safety instructor or Cycling Savvy certified instructor who agrees with Haley that it’s ever safe to ride far right where those sharrows are. The lanes are mostly too narrow for a bicycle and a car to travel safely side by side within the lane and they also have plenty of places where a motorist could turn right in front of a bicyclist. Bicyclists are exempt by CVC 21202(a)(4) from the requirement to ride far right when approaching a place where a right turn is authorized.

    Furthermore, those sharrows are accompanied by “Bicycles May Use Full Lane” signs which is regulatory sign R4-11 from both the California edition of the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices and the national Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices. Given that that sign is in the MUTCD, it has the full force of law. Haley needs to familiarize himself with CVC 214xx. He also needs to stop making up his own imaginary version of bicycle safety and pretending that real bicycle safety experts who’ve studied and practiced bicycle safety for years know less than he does with his total lack of study and serious lack of experience.

  2. Judy says:

    It’s obvious that the Sheriff’s department are completely uneducated about what a sharrow is or what it’s for. They are put in places that Engineers have determined are too narrow to share side by side with a motor vehicle. Bikes May Use Full Lane. Cars should change lanes to pass. It doesn’t matter how many are riding abreast in the lane since the motorists need to change lanes anyway to pass safely. It takes less time to pass a group then a long line of cyclist. Cyclists are exempt from riding as far right as practicable in ANY lane that is too narrow to share side by side. If the lane is not wide enough to fit a bike lane it is too narrow to share. If the right side of the lane has parking it is too narrow to share. Law Enforcement that ride bikes know this and here they demonstrate how to ride and control the full lane to be safe: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4z8y6an_ZcQ&feature=share&list=UU4f1SDOJV8PSZBFQTtKxWxw

  3. Serge Issakov says:

    “Some people think it’s a giant bike lane, which causes people in vehicles to get mad,” he said. Bicyclists are supposed to ride as far to the right as possible and only use a large part of the sharrow when they can’t safely do that.”

    Haley gets so much wrong here it’s just incredible. Nobody thinks it’s a giant bike lane. We have that on northbound 101 in Leucadia. Motorists are not allowed to drive in it – hence it’s a bike lane.

    A sharrow lane is a lane designated by traffic engineers as being too narrow for safe side-by-side sharing by bicycle and vehicle. That means the situation described in exception 21202(a)(3) is present, and so the requirement to ride as close as practicable (not possible) to the right does not apply at all anywhere for the length of the lane designated with sharrows and Bikes May Use Full Lane signs.

    The idea that he thinks he can legitimately detain and cite cyclists for using the full lane in a lane signed BIKES MAY USE FULL LANE is outrageous.

  4. Chris says:

    How do we go about educating the sheriff about the law? Leaving this ignorance lingering is dangerous.

  5. Richie says:

    A sharrow is the least of law enforcements worries …..

  6. Billy Bob says:

    First, I bike all up and down the coast and use these sharrowed lanes often. I am also in law enforcement and was a bit confused by sharrows when I first had to deal with them. I have since become very educated because of all of the collisions I have responded to with bicyclists involved. There is one major point you are failing to point out here. No matter how right you are, no matter what law says you can be wherever while in traffic, if you get hit by a car, I guarantee you will lose. Maybe not in court, but physically, you will lose.

    When I bike, or ride a motorcycle, I keep in mind that there are many people driving that shouldn’t be. Many are texting, drunk, high, mentally ill and alike. Keeping that in mind, I want to go home to my wife and kids at the end of the day, and if it means staying out of the way of 2000 lb. missiles, then that’s what I will do.
    I see you keep citing 21202 CVC. Keep in mind, there are many other sections, a few thousand sections that can be enforced in the interest of public safety. 22400(a) CVC – Impeding the flow of traffic for one. Because you are on a bike does not mean you have MORE right to the road. Just like a pedestrian does not have a right to just walk out into traffic and expect everyone to stop.

    Another one I see a lot is bicyclists getting all bent out of shape over is when a car, making a right turn, merges into the bike lane prior to the turn. According to 21209 (a) CVC, a vehicle can merge into the bike lane to prepare for a turn up to 200′ prior to the intersection.

    Then there is the big one I see all day long, while cyclists want all these rights to the road, they constantly fail to stop at red lights, stop signs, etc., a violation of 21456.2 (a) CVC.

    I could go on and on but my only wish is there be less, or even no, injuries or deaths of cyclists.

  7. Bill Davidson says:

    @Billy Bob: You seem to be saying that sharrows don’t matter and bicyclists should still ride far right in them because a car will kill them. What YOU fail to understand is that riding in the middle of the lane makes it far less likely that a bicyclist will be hit by a car. It makes them far more likely to be seen and makes it impossible to think that you can pass safely in the same lane.

    Yes, CVC 21209 allows motorists to merge into the bike lane before a right turn. You apparently didn’t notice that CVC 21717 actually REQUIRES them to merge into the bike lane before a right turn. I have never heard of a driver being cited for violating CVC 21717 though I see it violated many times every single day. When a motorist properly merges into the bike lane before a right turn, they prevent bicyclists from passing on the right and make right turn collisions far less likely.

    I don’t actually hear a lot of bicyclists getting bent out of shape about motorists merging into the bike lane before a right turn UNLESS they do so unsafely with small clearances. As with any lane change, you have to yield to traffic that is already in the lane. I talk to a lot of cyclists all the time. If this was a common complaint, I would know about it.

    CVC 22400(a) is a minimum speed law. It does NOT require any traffic to travel at a speed greater than it is physically capable of sustaining. It says NOTHING about riding far right. Its only requirement is maintaining speed. It makes exceptions for grade, safety and compliance with other laws such as speed limits or the basic speed law. The exception for grade was almost certainly made for big trucks which often have to go slow up hills because they can’t go any faster. The same principle applies to bicycles. Their speed is limited by the grade. I regularly exceed 40mph on my bike down hill because the grade allows it. My top speed ever was 55mph. I can be slowed to as little as 5 mph going up 12% grades.

    Furthermore CVC 21200(a) exempts bicyclists from requirements that cannot be reasonably applied to bicyclists due to their nature. You can’t require a bicyclist to go 40mph on a level road because they can’t do it. Remember that CVC 22400′s only requirement is maintaining speed.

    There is also all sorts of slow traffic on the surface roads where you typically find bicyclists. There are buses, garbage trucks and loaded 18 wheelers. There are people slowing to turn. There are people slowing to park. Why aren’t all of these people being cited for CVC 22400(a)? Actually, I know the answer: It’s because they are in motor vehicles and nobody’s trying to look for a loophole in the law to deny them the right to use the road.

    You are trying to distort CVC 22400 in a desperate childish attempt to deny bicyclists the right to use the road. A good lawyer will beat a CVC 22400 ticket against a bicyclist. I know a good lawyer who has done exactly that.

    It’s funny how nobody ever challenges the general right of motorists to use the road based upon the fact that most exceed the speed limit with great regularity, most do not signal turns or lane changes, most do not come to a complete stop at stop signs if there is no cross traffic, most will not yield to a pedestrian at an uncontrolled intersection or even a marked crosswalk if that crosswalk is not accompanied by a stop sign or red light. I could go on and on. I see hundreds of vehicle code violations by motorists every single time I’m out on the road.

    CVC 21200(a) says that bicyclists have the right to use the road. WE ALREADY HAVE THE RIGHT TO USE THE ROAD! It’s just that some people, like you, seem to refuse to accept that as a fact and you try to make every petty childish excuse that you can to deny us that right.

    Take a safety class from the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition. You’ll be glad you did.

  8. Bill Davidson says:

    One more thing I forgot to mention about CVC 22400: the courts have repeatedly found that when motorists can move over to pass, they are not being impeded. That’s another reason that CVC 22400 cannot be applied to bicyclists on multi-lane roads.

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